Waste Not, Want Not: Environmental Impacts of Sorting and Prevention of Household Waste
Zuijlen, B.R.H. van
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The Netherlands is performing quite well on waste treatment compared to other countries in Europe. However, only 51% of all Dutch household waste is collected as separately collected waste and the rest as residual waste. Reducing the amount of residual waste is important to improve recycling because the products and materials in separately collected waste can be recycled more easily. The Dutch waste management company ROVA organised the 100-100-100 project. This project was aimed to improve separation of waste, by reducing the amount of residual household waste. Four hundred households participated in the project and were coached by ROVA to decrease their residual waste. The participating households reduced their residual waste through (1) improved waste sorting, (2) a changed consumption behaviour (i.e. buying products that can be recycled when wasted) and, (3) waste prevention. This thesis determined the environmental impact of the 100-100-100 project and related it to the average waste composition of Dutch households. Four indicators were used to measure the environmental impact: (1) primary energy use, (2) GHG emissions, (3) absolute scarcity and, (4) critical materials. The waste of participating households was collected and analysed in order to determine the impact of the household waste. The environmental impact of the households was determined with a modified version of the iWaste model. Furthermore, the impact on scarcity was determined by looking how much of a material was wasted and how much could be recovered through recycling. The impact on critical materials in the waste was inferred from the product types that were found. The increased share of sorted waste and reduction of overall waste resulted in a smaller impact for all four indicators. Personal coaching was more effective than collective coaching via an online platform in order to reach this goal. Households that were performing worse than the average household also realised a larger reduction. However, after the project those household still lagged behind the better performing households. The sorting behaviour of the 100-100-100 participants is not comparable to the average Dutch household. The participants had a smaller amount of waste and also disposed a larger share of their waste as sorted waste. As a result, 100-100-100 participants already had a smaller environmental impact from household waste than the average Dutch household did. Therefore, the average Dutch household has a much larger reduction potential. A future project for Dutch households might thus result in larger environmental impact reductions.